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Community OR - Join in!

Welcome to the Community OR Group pages on which we’ll be posting comments, information, news of our events and activities, reports of meetings and other interesting features.

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Recent Blog Posts

Monday, 30 Jul 2018
Amy Hughes

Gerald Midgley (Centre for Systems Studies, University of Hull, UK) and Michael Johnson (University of Massachusetts Boston) are co-editors of a special issue of the European Journal of Operational Research entitled ‘Community Operational Research: Innovations, Internationalization and Agenda-Setting Applications’ (Elsevier, August 2018). The purpose of this special issue is to highlight current work in operational research, management science and analytics that emphasizes community engagement in decision science for local impact and social change. You may learn more about this project at

Gerald and Michael hope that their work will serve to enhance the diversity of the OR community, and to show how the field can make a difference in the lives of people, communities and institutions worldwide, especially those that are traditionally under-represented in OR. Please contact Michael ( or Gerald ( with any questions, comments or suggestions about this or related/future projects and/or collaborations.

Tuesday, 14 Mar 2017
Huw Evans

Thanks to Catherine Hobbs on the Public Policy Design SIG for highlighting this report - see the link below

OECD Observatory of Public Sector Innovation - An initiative of the OECD’s Public Governance and Territorial Development Directorate 

'Working with Change' - Systems approaches to public sector challenges 

I suggest that designing / re-shaping public policy and services needs underpinning by the application of COR approaches and processes in order to bring the variety of actors in the 'system' together and share and learn as they work

Thanks to Ruth Kaufman for highlighting this ...

Citizen Science - - what does it mean in relation to Community OR?

From a brief exploration it looks like it encompasses anything from people volunteering to trial health initiatives all the way through to participative action research -and self-reliant partiticipative research and into spheres of demcracy, designing / influencing public policy design ...

Some of the work labelled 'Citizen Science' do seem to be part of the COR agenda

Is this a truly new / different domain or just a re-labelling of others?

Has anyone explored this domain?

Further contributions sought ....

Monday, 20 Feb 2017
Huw Evans

I've added the report on the Older Persons Listening Project to the site.

For a more in-depth account of the project and its findings, please contact Bethan Smith (report author) at Interlink on: 01443 846 200 or

"The Older Person’s Listening Project is a Participatory Action Research project that has to date involved over 40 ‘volunteer listeners’ including local individuals and staff from over 25 organisations; from the third sector, public health, housing and county borough councils. Everyone involved shared the common belief that older people are highly valuable members of our communities, with experiences and knowledge that should be listened to, shared and acted upon. However, evidence shows that a lot of older people in our communities are often subject to loneliness and isolation. The issue of loneliness and isolation is a complex one, which affects people differently, and has a wide range of causes and different impacts. The Listening Project has been engaging with over 50’s and recording their experiences using a tool called SenseMaker®. Unlike traditional consultation, SenseMaker® is used to capture and make sense of what matters most to people, making research more about people than the researcher’s agenda; whilst still generating strong evidence to support and guide the work of the third sector and to advocate the voices of community members at a strategic level."

The work is an example of community OR in practice

Tuesday, 29 Mar 2016
Huw Evans

I came across this book review - Positive Deviance seems to be a Community OR approach on the World Bank website -


" ... each community has to make the journey of discovery – no shortcuts ..."

Wednesday, 17 Feb 2016
Huw Evans

I have recently become involved, in a voluntary capacity, with a steering group seeking to develop the impact the Made Open ( platform has on enabling people to engage with other citizens in developing solutions to local problems and/or connecting people to ideas and initiatives.

The Made Open platform has been adopted by Monmouthshire County Council ( to this end but has yet to attract a wide audience and activity is lower than the Council would like.  The platform is in use in Tasmania where it seems to have attracted more interest and activity (

An initial observation has been that the platform has been acquired with little focus across the Council on how it supports activity towards the delivery of the strategic aims.  It may have been seen as providing as support for citizens to act on their own behalf in the light of the reducing capability and capacity of the Council as budget cuts are made and to develop engagement and volunteering.

The idea of developing dialogue and engagement between citizens and empowering them to develop solutions to local issues is of interest to Community OR practitioners and theorists.  I’d welcome any thoughts, ideas and experiences of the use of these types of ICT platform to support citizen led community development.


Huw Evans

Friday, 29 Jan 2016
Huw Evans

Tiago Peixoto, World Bank & Jonathan Fox, American University have produced this paper - available via the following link:


This paper reviews evidence on the use of 23 information and communication technology (ICT) platforms to project citizen voice to improve public service delivery. This meta-analysis focuses on empirical studies of initiatives in the global South, highlighting both citizen uptake (‘yelp’) and the degree to which public service providers respond to expressions of citizen voice (‘teeth’). The conceptual framework further distin- guishes between two trajectories for ICT-enabled citizen voice: Upwards accountability occurs when users provide feedback directly to decision-makers in real time, allowing policy-makers and program managers to identify and address service delivery problems – but at their discretion. Downwards accountability, in contrast, occurs either through real time user feedback or less immediate forms of collective civic action that publicly call on service providers to become more accountable and depends less exclusively on decision-makers’ discretion about whether or not to act on the information provided. This distinction between the ways in which ICT platforms mediate the relationship between citizens and service providers allows for a precise analytical focus on how different dimensions of such platforms contribute to public sector responsiveness. These cases suggest that while ICT platforms have been relevant in increasing policymakers’ and senior managers’ capacity to respond, most of them have yet to influence their willingness to do so. 

Tuesday, 24 Nov 2015
Huw Evans

Case Study - Reviewing Business Plans

I have posted a link - below - to a case study of an intervention with a community development charity.  The work drew upon the principles, approaches and processes associated with community operational research.



Thursday, 22 Oct 2015
Huw Evans

My thanks to Ruth Kaufman for making me aware of this report by Rob Abercrombie, Ellen Harries and Rachel Wharton for LankellyChase Foundation and New Philanthropy Capital - you can access it via this link -

The authors talk about 'Operational Researchers' and the distinction between 'hard' and 'soft' OR, even describing the potential approaches of each advocate/practitioner.  I'm not so sure the distinctions are that easy to define in real life and that hybrids are the reality for many ...  For me change will involve both hard and soft OR - each informing the other.

For me community OR has a big part to play in understanding the need for change and designing systrems, processes .... and maybe it's too simplistic to talk in terms of just 'soft' approaches when there are a range of ways of addressing change.  what do you think?

Wednesday, 21 Oct 2015
Huw Evans

This report by Simon Burall of Involve focusing on a more deliberative approach to democracy in the UK should have implications for community OR in the impact of COR approaches to, and processes for, public engagement in deliberative democratic frameworks.

"Democratic reform comes in waves, propelled by technological, economic, political and social developments. There are periods of rapid change, followed by relative quiet.

We are currently in a period of significant political pressure for change to our institutions of democracy and government. With so many changes under discussion it is critically important that those proposing and carrying out reforms understand the impact that different reforms might have.

Most discussions of democratic reform focus on electoral democracy. However, for all their importance in the democratic system, elections rarely reveal what voters think clearly enough for elected representatives to act on them. Changing the electoral system will not alone significantly increase the level of democratic control held by citizens.

Room for a View, by Involve’s director Simon Burall, looks at democratic reform from a broader perspective than that of elections. Drawing on the work of democratic theorists, it uses a deliberative systems approach to examine the state of UK democracy. Rather than focusing exclusively on the extent to which individuals and communities are represented within institutions, it is equally concerned with the range of views present and how they interact.

Adapting the work of the democratic theorist John Dryzek, the report identifies seven components of the UK’s democratic system, describing and analysing the condition of each in turn. Assessing the UK’s democracy though this lens reveals it to be in fragile health. The representation of alternative views and narratives in all of the UK system’s seven components is poor, the components are weakly connected and, despite some positive signs, deliberative capacity is decreasing.

Room for a View suggests that a focus on the key institutions isn’t enough. If the health of UK democracy is to be improved, we need to move away from thinking about the representation of individual voters to thinking about the representation of views, perspectives and narratives. Doing this will fundamentally change the way we approach democratic reform"

See the report and a summary via the link -